Hearts broke downtown last year when the Ohio Theatre closed its doors, yet another sad casualty of the real estate machine. A Soho staple that housed early works by Tony Kushner and Mark Morris as well as companies such as Target Margin and New Georges, the expansive, loft-like space gave the impression of attending a chic party where people happened to perform plays. Well, after 20-plus years south of Houston, the Ohio (now tacking on the “New” moniker) has found a new home on Christopher Street, with a 10-year lease, a 72-seat black box in a lovely co-op, and a burgeoning outreach program centering on building college audiences. Everything seems in line to achieve maximum momentum. One has to hope, however, that the theater will yield more inspired works than one of its inaugural productions—Joseph Gallo’s testo-laden ode to dudehood, Two-Man Kidnapping Rule.
The title comes from a lifelong pact enacted by a band of New Jersey compadres in which one guy must go along with a scenario (however nutty) as long as two others feel it’s in the best interest of the one who’s waffling. As the play begins, we meet paunchy New York Giants would-be Jack (Curran Cooper) who’s stewing over his former love and her new fiancé (a Dallas Cowboys player = the enemy). His slick, bro’s-before-’hos pal Vincent (Duane Cooper) tries to convince Jack to explore a boys’ night of debauchery to cheer him up. Enter a third figure —the puppyish, about-to-get-hitched Seth (Andy Lutz), who’s equally excited and terrified about leaving bachelorhood behind.
The trio talk big, get in a scuffle, test loyalties…you know the drill. If only that drill ever rose above wan NBC-comedy patter. Also, despite a piquant observation here and there about the eternal manchild, the work bears evidence of non-judicious cutting: An actress is credited in the program who never once appears, and an oft-mentioned fourth buddy (who also never appears) seems a superfluous addition to an already-languorous two hours. Put simply, Two-Man never really adds up.